How Many Watts Do You Need to Run a Refrigerator?

When the power goes out, the one appliance everyone thinks of right away is the refrigerator. If you’re smart, you know to limit how often you open it so that the cool air stays in and keeps the food from spoiling.

If you’re really smart, you’re already two steps ahead and thinking about investing in a backup power supply to keep the refrigerator running even during a blackout. 

But how many watts do you need to run a refrigerator? And is there a way to optimize power consumption? 

From wattage use to reducing refrigerator power consumption, we explain everything you need to know to outlast a blackout. We also share our top tips for determining the right-sized generator that you’ll need to keep your refrigerator running. 

Read on for all you need to know about running a refrigerator when the electricity gets cut. 

How Many Watts Does a Refrigerator Use?

Domestic refrigerators use anywhere between 300 and 800 watts, depending on how old the appliance is, the size of the fridge, and other factors. 

Most refrigerators indicate the amount of electricity they use, measured in amps. Most will use between 3-6 amps and around 120 volts. You can find your refrigerator’s specific amps and volts by checking the manufacturer’s sticker, usually inside the main compartment or the door. 

To calculate the average wattage of your refrigerator, multiply the volts by the amps. 

What’s the Average Power Consumption of a Refrigerator?

The average power usage depends on a few factors, including the type of refrigerator you own. There’s a significant degree of variation depending on the size, age, and location of the fridge. 

Let’s go over different refrigerators and how their average power consumption varies. 

Top-Mount Freezer Refrigerator

These refrigerators have a freezer on top and a fresh food compartment on the bottom. They’re the most energy efficient type of fridges because of the location of the freezer and compressor. 

The compressor is located at the bottom of the refrigerator, opposite where the freezer is. On a bottom freezer unit, the compressor is much closer. Therefore, it’s harder to keep the heat out.

Top freezers are furthest from the compressor, which means they use significantly less energy than bottom freezers, reducing power consumption. 

On average, an Energy Star top-mount freezer refrigerator uses about 360 kWh to run.

Side-by-Side Refrigerator 

Side-by-side refrigerators have two separate compartments, each with its own door. One side consists of the freezer compartment, and the other is the fresh food compartment. 

An Energy Star side-by-side fridge uses about 630 kWh to run. 

Mini Fridge 

Mini-fridges require much less power than a full-sized kitchen refrigerator. While wattage is based on cooling capabilities, most appliances require somewhere between 50 and 100 watts of power. 

You can find the exact power consumption details in the owner’s manual or with a quick Google search.

Factors That Affect How Much Energy a Refrigerator Uses

For the most energy-efficient refrigerator, opt for top-mount freezer models with excellent Energy Star ratings. Look at the Energy Star label for the annual energy usage estimate (kWh). The less power usage, the more energy-efficient you can expect the refrigerator to be. 

Here are some factors that will affect energy consumption: 

  • Type: Top-mount freezer refrigerators are much more energy efficient than side-by-side refrigerators.
  • Size: The larger the appliance, the more electricity it will consume.
  • Location: The appliance will consume more power if the fridge is in a warm or poorly ventilated area.
  • Season: It’s no surprise that refrigerators utilize more energy in the summer than in the winter. They need to work harder to maintain cool temperatures.
  • Appliance Age: Have an old fridge? Consider replacing it with a newer, Energy Star-rated one. Old appliances use more energy, which is why it’s recommended to flip your fridge if you want to reduce your electricity bill. 
  • Frequency of Use: If you’re constantly opening your fridge door, you’ll make its compressor work harder, increasing electricity bills.
  • Condition: If the seals of your fridge are damaged, the appliance won’t work as efficiently as it should. Therefore, make sure your fridge is in good condition at all times.

How to Reduce Refrigerator Power Consumption

Decreased power consumption means lowered energy bills, and who doesn’t want that? Here are four tips to keep in mind:

1. Let Food Cool Down Before Storing 

Allow your food to cool down before placing it in your fridge. It doesn’t cost anything to get your food to room temperature by letting it sit on the countertop. If you put hot food in the refrigerator, you force it to work harder to maintain the cool temperature. Making the appliance work harder to restore cooler inner temperatures will cost you!

2. Defrost Food Inside 

This next tip is a helpful suggestion that kills two birds with one stone. 

For starters, by defrosting food inside your refrigerator, you’re helping the appliance stay cold. In the meantime, you’re getting the food ready for consumption in the safest way. It’s a crucial tip, especially for defrosting meats. Make sure to defrost food 24 hours in advance inside the fridge. 

3. Don’t Overfill the Refrigerator 

You’ve likely heard that you should keep your fridge full to lower energy bills. However, you don’t want to overfill it. By doing so, you’re not allowing air to circulate. 

If your appliance isn’t full enough, consider filling the empty spaces with polystyrene blocks! 

4. Open Your Fridge Less Often 

Opening the door to your fridge as little as possible means your refrigerator will stay cool. You’re letting precious cool air out every time you open it, making your fridge work harder to get it back to the right temperature. 

For this reason, if you’re ever left without power during a storm and don’t have a generator, it’s important only to open the refrigerator when necessary. You don’t want to let cool air out unless it’s essential. 

Can You Use a Battery Powered Generator to Power a Refrigerator?

Absolutely! You can use a battery-powered generator to run a fridge as long as the generator can handle the watts the appliance requires. 

EcoFlow DELTA Pro 

One of the best portable power stations is the EcoFlow DELTA Pro

With it, you’ll be able to run more than just a refrigerator. With an expandable capacity of 3.6kWh to 25kWh, you’ll be able to power your entire home in the case of a power outage. Simply add the extra batteries when you need additional power.

Further, the EcoFlow DELTA Pro can run a 120W refrigerator for 24 hours straight. It is more than enough time to get you through most power outages. 

Many also prefer integrating this power station directly with their home circuits using the EcoFlow Smart Home Ecosystem.

You can also use EcoFlow solar panels alongside any DELTA power stations for an even more energy-efficient option. Panels will turn the portable power station into a solar generator that offers clean energy that is less environmentally damaging than traditional energy.

How to Choose a Battery-Powered Generator For a Refrigerator?

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to choose the right battery-powered generator for your fridge: 

1. Estimate Your Fridge’s Power Consumption

First, you’ll want to calculate how many watts your refrigerator uses. As we mentioned earlier, the amount of power your fridge uses varies widely. Older appliances often use double the power that new, energy-efficient models use. 

An easy way to learn about your refrigerator’s power requirements is by looking at the sticker inside the refrigerator. Look for the number of amps your fridge requires. 

Let’s say the refrigerator requires 6.5 amps. Assuming you’re plugging it into a standard 120V wall outlet, you’ll multiply the amps by the volts to get the average running watts. In this case, it’s 780 watts. 

2. Determine Startup Wattage

Refrigerators also require an extra surge in power each time their compressor starts. The surge capacity usually is 2-3 times more than the average running watts. 

In the scenario mentioned above, this would mean you’d need a battery-powered generator with a size that can handle 1,560 watts. You can usually confirm the startup wattage in the manufacturer’s manual specific to your refrigerator. 

3. Browse EcoFlow’s Power Stations 

With this information, you’re ready to shop the EcoFlow DELTA Series

We’ve designed these generators to run several appliances, whether you want to reduce electricity costs or just need reliable home backup power. 

Take it a step further by investing in a solar generator. These devices replace traditional gas generators and cut out the noise, fumes, and heavy maintenance. Better yet, you can use them indoors or outdoors.

You can also bundle and save by opting for the DELTA solar-powered generators, which include the DELTA PPS and solar panels. With EcoFlow, powering your household appliances with renewable energy has never been so easy.

The Takeaway 

Understanding the number of watts your refrigerator needs is a great first step to lowering energy consumption. And, for increased energy efficiency, consider shopping for a solar generator that will power your fridge using renewable energy. 

Shop EcoFlow today and find the right battery-powered generator for your home needs!

EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.


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